In the March 2016 Entrepreneur Magazine, there was a great article about  22 Must Have Leadership Qualities.  I found the article to be so powerful that I am spending a few minutes each week thinking about how I can improve these leadership skills myself.  Like most things in life, you get what you focus your attention on.

Here are the leadership qualities I have already discussed:Innovation

#1   Focus
#2   Confidence
#3   Transparency
#4   Integrity
#5   Inspiration
#6  Passion

The next must have leadership quality on the Entrepreneur Magazine list is Innovation.

Having innovation come next on the list happens to be well timed for me since I am reading a book on innovation right now – The Comeback – How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream  by Gary Shapiro with a foreword by Mark Cuban.

Innovators by nature are problem solvers and don’t necessarily see things in the same way or from the same perspective that everyone else in the room does.  These are the people that after an hour of discussing a complex issue can ask a seemingly innocuous question such as “What if we did this?” or “Why can’t we do that?”  While these questions are rather simple they can sometimes unlock the solution to a problem that has been alluding others that have been using conventional problem solving methods.

It’s not that innovators are smarter than everyone else it’s really a sense of perspective and knowing when to put conventions aside and to step out side the box of conventional thinking.  Many of our current problems are being tackled by opposite viewpoints and set ideologies with no one asking some of the questions that innovators regularly ask.  By not reframing the challenge in a new light, the problem can’t be solved in its current confines.

Questions That Innovators Ask
While not every problem or challenge we encounter in life can be solved by a change in perspective it certainly helps to reframe your current challenge in a new light by asking some of these types of questions to gain a new perspective:

  • What if ?
  • Why Can’t We?
  • Why Not?
  • How Come?

When you think of some of the world’s greatest innovators such as Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers, Thomas Edison or Alexander Graham Bell, they didn’t think about what they can’t do… they asked the question “Why Not?” and “What if?”

A Warning to You “Dreamers” Out There
Sometimes the person that’s asking the question “Why can’t we?” or “Why not?” in response to some of our biggest challenges are labeled “Dreamers”.  I want to warn those of you that ask these questions on a regular basis … you will be shamed, you will be told that you are asking stupid questions and some will say that what you are proposing can’t be done.  Don’t let this discourage you from not accepting the status quo or moving forward with your new idea or solution.  On the contrary, draw inspiration from knowing that your idea has merit and that you are the one with the idea that can upset the apple cart.  That’s what leadership is all about after all… seeing a vision for how things can be and not accepting them for how they are. Leaders that can use their ability to innovate and solve problems can capture the minds and hearts of those that are passionate about solving the problem facing them and lead them to a solution.  Don’t ever, ever, ever give up regardless of how much scorn and scrutiny you face.

The next time you have a challenge or problem at work or home that you need a little help tackling, try thinking like our nation’s greatest innovators and leaders and see how you can use these questions to reframe your problem.

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